Sink or Swim – Valuable Life Skills

With all the talk about education we all tend to think of it being related to schools. Academic qualifications. The “right” school. A “good” school. Etc… However, some of the most important things we learn have little or nothing to do with going to school.

Take swimming for example. Not only is swimming a valuable life skill it is a skill that could actually save your life. Surprisingly there are many people – both children and adults – who cannot swim. Here are some interesting stats.

Amazing figures…

Incredibly one in five children in the UK cannot swim. More worrying than that is the fact that between the ages of 10 and 16 that figure rises to one in three. One third! The age range is significant. It is the age group that makes up the highest percentage of drownings in the UK.

While swimming is on the national curriculum in the UK (at least for now) there are other places where it is not. Some surveys suggest that in the USA almost half of the population cannot swim to a basic standard (see below). Yet other surveys suggest that things are even worse among certain ethnic groups. Amazingly almost 70% of black children in the USA cannot swim. That may seem crazy when we are so used to seeing the likes of Michael Phelps and his team mates winning so many Olympic medals. The USA has always dominated the sport. But separating the sport from the life skill is important.

In general, the main reason that these kids cannot swim is because their parents do not swim. The cost of lessons puts most parents off so the number of non-swimming children will probably grow.

Meanwhile, in Spain…

I was unable to find similar statistics on Spain. I would expect that given the climate and number of outdoor swimming pools open during the summer months that the number of non-swimmers for Spain would be much lower. If you know of a source for this information please let me know via a comment and the post will be updated.

Dani is now having swimming lessons. Not because his parents can’t swim because we both swim well . The problem is he does not listen to us when we try to teach him and talks non-stop. He needs a teacher he is less likely to answer back. Even with someone he recognises only as his swimming teacher he still does not shut up. Part of the classes are spent reminding him that talking and swimming are not compatible.

After only two lessons he is showing huge signs of improvement. As life skills go I think it is money well spent.

The five core swimming skills in the USA- also known as “water competency,” – include jumping or stepping into water over one’s head, returning to the surface to tread water or float for one minute, circling around and identifying an exit, swimming 25 yards to that point and then exiting the water.

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